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Jeff Wolf

Writer / Adventurer

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Could the answer to our happiness be found in NO expectations?

Barry suggests, tongue-in-cheek, that the answer to happiness is low expectations. Could the answer be that happiness is found in NO expectations? While low expectations would mean you’re seldom disappointed, it also speaks to a person’s self-worth; I do not deserve more or better. Having no expectations doesn’t diminish my sense of worth and it does more than reduce disappointment; it allows joy and contentment in all circumstances.

If I work a long day and expect dinner on the table when I get home, I am disappointed (and possibly angry) when the expectation is not met. If dinner is on the table, it is merely what I expected. I may exchange pleasantries and say “Thank You”. But the experience is completely different if I had no expectation and found that someone had thought of me and taken the time to prepare a meal for me. My gratitude is real. My enjoyment is real. The experience of the meal is increased.

When I expect nothing, I am more than just “not disappointed” when I receive. I am pleased and thankful, even for the smallest things.

Topics: future happiness
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    Aug 23 2011: Somewhat perversely, embracing the dark as well as the light is probably the path to happiness.

    Pure light is just blandness. Pure dark is just depression. But the two together will contrast with each other, and bring perceptions and senses into recognition, so we recognise their shape, colour and texture.
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      Aug 23 2011: I have a twist on the concept of opposites. The value in recognizing opposites is that they reveal a greater truth that encompasses both. I think we generally do a poor job of defining opposites though, so poor that it obscures the truth. What, specifically and in detail, do we mean by light? We have to know our own definitions before we can define its opposite. In reference to your example, pure darkness would be bland as well, wouldn’t it? And the blandness of pure light would create depression.

      I acknowledge the relationship between opposites and how you point out that they help us recognize their shape, color, and texture. I tend to diverge from convention wisdom though, in that I don’t believe experiencing (or embracing) both is required to bring about that recognition. My valleys have helped me understand and more fully experience my mountain tops. I believe that is a very common human experience. But I think it’s correlation, not causation. It is something that DOES happen, not MUST happen. In other words, I believe I can experience mountain tops without experiencing valleys, even though in my experience, I have had both. I can see truth without having to believe lies first.
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        Aug 23 2011: Agree that pure darkness would also be bland and pure light depressing. I was speaking in a metaphorical sense, where one forms the essential context for the other, resulting in clarity. It is similar to your mountain/valley analogy.

        Can I ask what you mean by "I can see truth without having to believe in lies first"? I can understand what you mean by the truth, but what are the lies, and where are they from?
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          Aug 24 2011: I’ve been trying to figure out how to be concise. I think I came across a workable example in my response to Cheyenne.

          I believe in the inherent worth of every individual (truth to me). In my experience, I can see that I do not always believe that about myself (a lie). I can become aware of the lie as part of exposing the truth, but don’t believe it’s necessary to believe the lie in order to be aware of the truth (i.e., I don’t first HAVE to see myself as unworthy to see my worthiness. I don’t HAVE to experience sorrow to know joy … they just happen that way a lot).

          To make matters more complicated for myself (and communication), I don’t generally use the term ‘lie’. I think it implies intent (to deceive). More accurate is to see the ‘lies’ as misconceptions (misunderstanding doesn’t imply intent, although it implies error). To be more precise (and create even more communication issues) I prefer to use ‘unawareness’. I am simply unaware of the truth … no intent to deceive and no error of judgment.

          In a larger sense then, I see ‘sin’ as believing a ‘lie’ which is merely a ‘misconception’ that indicates ‘unawareness’ of truth. Awareness becomes the goals.

          Where does unawareness (lies) come from? I believe it is our choice. In our experience, we each create our own understanding of reality by building on ‘lies’. Our fortress seems impregnable and we don’t understand how it can be a choice or how to make different ones.

          From an evolutionary perspective, our consciousness has developed (and is developing) so we can experience awareness. From a religious perspective, it is about knowing God. From a philosophical perspective, it is about knowing ourselves. From a mystical perspective it is about “the oneness.” From a psychological perspective it is about accepting ourselves. From a metaphysical perspective it is about understanding our existence without regard to time or space.

          I believe these are all the same (different perspectives of the same truth).
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        Aug 24 2011: "The law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man’s thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change." - Mao Zedong

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